Rugby Union: Chalmers cancels S African visit: Scot's fear of unrest turns his thoughts to home

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The Independent Online
CONCERNED at reports of political violence, Craig Chalmers yesterday abandoned plans to spend the off-season in South Africa in the hope that it would further his ambition to regain a place in the Scotland team, writes Steve Bale.

The Lions outside-half's decision comes barely five weeks before England are due to embark on their tour of South Africa and coincides with frantic efforts to persuade New South Wales to reconsider their withdrawal from a Super Ten match against Natal on Saturday week.

Chalmers had intended to spend four months in Durban either side of the Scottish tour of Argentina, playing for the Glenwood club to which his former Scotland team- mate John Allan belongs, but the state of emergency declared in Natal last Thursday has persuaded him to change his mind.

'It would be crazy to go across there just now,' Chalmers said yesterday. 'I'd like to go and enjoy myself, not live in fear. The idea was to see a few things as well as play rugby, but from what I hear people are out buying guns and there are warnings not to set foot on the beach.'

England's tour follows a fortnight after the first multi-race elections in South Africa but, despite the risk of escalating violence, the South African Rugby Football Union has already 'guaranteed' the players' safety. Yesterday, the mainly Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party did the same for the NSW team.

The Australians' desire to switch the game from Durban had been strengthened when an IFP spokesman, Humphrey Ndhlovu, said their safety could not be guaranteed but yesterday another IFP spokesman, Ed Tillet, flatly contradicted his colleague. 'There is no possibility of the players being endangered,' he said. 'We do have a constitutional crisis, both nationally and regionally, but there is no need for panic or over-reaction.'